Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
This past week, I was in Klagetoh, Arizona, staying at St. Anne’s Mission in the Navajo Nation. Today’s reading is taken from John, chapter 10, entitled “The Good Shepherd” and is famous for the verse “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” In my time on the reservation, I found out that I was not exactly a good shepherd…I was a terrible one. I think the best that I could do was scare them away from me. The most I am qualified to do is to shovel sheep poop (which I found myself to be relatively good at).
A friend and I got the opportunity to speak in a theology class at a local high school. I spoke to them about how I think that Jesus shows us how to create the Kingdom of God on Earth. Through his life and teachings, he is a model for all to challenge oppressive forces in our world. In the Gospel, the Jews want to stone Jesus because he is not willing to tell them whether or not he is the Messiah. Jesus responds that they should believe in the good of his actions and realize that “the Father is in [him] and [he is] in the Father.”
The first reading from Jeremiah ends with, “Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD, For he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!” A recurring theme of the week was seeing the lasting effects of atrocities done to the Native American people by the US government. In the past, the military has torched Navajo property, the government has mandated learning English with the intention of stomping out the Navajo culture, and, in 1864, the Navajo people were forced to walk at gunpoint from their tribal lands in Arizona to New Mexico in what’s known as the Long Walk. However, I think Jesus and others in history like Gandhi and Dr. King, have fought the effects of such oppressive forces. Last week, I encountered many people who help “fight the good fight.” To me, these readings encourage me to be a force for change. This Lent, I challenge us to take being Christian literally. I challenge us to be Christ-like in the face of staunch opposition. To fight complacency and let our actions display our faith. To have God’s will be done “on Earth as it is in heaven.”
Today, let us reflect on these lines of the prayer from the Navajo Blessingway Ceremony:
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
Nebu Kolenchery is a sophomore studying Public Health.